The first vaccine for dengue fever has been approved for use in Mexico. An estimated 390 million people worldwide are infected with the dengue virus each year, though many feel little or no symptoms. Photo by smuay/Shutterstock
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The first vaccine for the mosquito-borne dengue fever has been approved for use in Mexico, with plans announced for an initial 40,000 doses to be given to people in areas most affected by the infection.
Although many do not feel symptoms, dengue fever can cause high temperature, as well as joint and muscle pain, and in severe cases can lead to hemorrhagic fever. Since 2013, Central and South American countries have dealt with the infection, including Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico.
The World Health Organization reports the disease, cause by the dengue virus, is endemic in more than 100 countries around the world, estimating there are 390 million infections per year, of which about 500,000 require hospitalization.
The drug, Dengvaxia, is expected to be available early next year in Mexico, though a price has not been set and specifics of inoculation plans have not been announced.
"Dengue is a growing health threat in Mexico and many other tropical and subtropical countries in Latin America and Asia," said José Luis Arredondo García, associate director of clinical research at Mexico's National Institute of Pediatrics, in a press release. "Dengvaxia will be a critical addition to the integrated dengue prevention and control efforts. It will be an essential tool to boost on-going community efforts to relieve the long-standing suffering that this disease continues to bring to people in endemic countries like ours."
Clinical trials showed the vaccine reduced the chance of contracting dengue by about 60 percent, and is least effective in children younger than 9. Based on this, the Mexican government will be making the vaccine available to people between the ages of 9 and 45. It protects against all four strains of dengue fever, said the vaccine's manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.
The company said it has been working on the vaccine for 20 years, conducting 25 clinical trials in 15 countries with 40,000 participants.
Olivier Charmeil, executive vice president for vaccines at Sanofi, told the New York Times the company will have applied for approval in 20 countries by the end of December. It already has 2 million doses of Dengvaxia available and plans to have the ability to make 100 million doses per year by 2017.
"We are making dengue the next vaccine-preventable disease," Charmeil said.